In this article we are going to get into the specifics of how to maturely navigate a prolonged fast. As fasting becomes more popular as a healing modality, many people (myself included) are testing their boundaries by extending their protocols.
Some are going for 30 days, 60 days. The Master Fast System even sees people clocking in 108 days.
Before you get all eager beaver on me, please read this article in full so you can better understand how to fast SAFELY.
Keep in mind I am no fasting wizard and I do NOT recommend diving into a prolonged fast without guidance and support from someone who is highly qualified and experienced in the arena of detoxification.
I can happily guide you on a short and sweet fast. However, if you are wanting to take the body into deep detoxification, I recommend seeking out the best of the best to support you.
Usually the motivation behind wanting to do a prolonged fast, is to heal a relentless and chronic condition. If this is true for you, I suspect that Western medicinal practices were unable to get to the root cause of your condition and you are now turning to alternative healing methods.
Welcome my friends. Taking healing into your own hands can be scary, confusing and simultaneously liberating and beyond informative.
A word of caution – proceed with care.
A prolonged fast is a means of getting out of the body’s way. It reduces the burden of digestion so the body can better exert its energy towards healing.
However, it is not to be taken lightly and can pose serious danger to the physical and mental bodies if done incorrectly. It is also essential that it come from no other place than love.
A Word of Warning
Again! Full disclosure. I am no doctor.
I speak only from the experience of being a guinea pig in my own little lab of healing and all I can offer is my story.
If you are considering going into a prolonged fast I highly recommend doing your research and by this I mean speaking with a detox specialist. Speaking to someone who is thoroughly knowledgeable and who can offer you safe guidance.
Be wary of those who are too dogmatic in their approach to fasting and most importantly – listen to your body. Listen to its cues, listen to your intuition. Try not to confuse this with your ego. I’m talking about your inner most which is always trying to guide you – this is a source worth listening to.
Alright, let’s dive in.
Prolonged fasting, in my book, that I just invented then… would be anything over the 24 hour mark.
I truly believe fasting for less than a week on liquids or fruits – you are still going to be in very safe territory. You might experience a few headaches but it is short enough that you wouldn’t HAVE to take any other measures.
Once you start to push past that week mark, the game changes a little (a lot even)…
..but first let’s talk about the types of fasts you can extend!
There are multiple types of fasts that you can prolong, including; dry fasting, juice, water and mono fruit feasting. Each of these will take your body into a state of detoxification once you start to dig deep.
Another note of caution – All of these methods come with their risks, but I especially do NOT recommend dry fasting for an extended period of time. Not unless you have been playing these games for a long time and are deeply informed.
Not to say dry fasting doesn’t have profound healing benefits. It is however, not child’s play and it needs to be executed in a certain way.
How To Prepare the Body
First thing to do is take a look at your current diet. This has a big influence over how you will fare on your fast. I don’t recommend jumping into a prolonged fast (a couple of days, no worries), if you are coming from the SAD diet!
The Standard American Diet – a way of eating that really is a sorry, sad state of affairs. No judgement, this is the case for most of us and what is considered to be the ‘norm’.
This diet includes animal products, a lot of grains and processed junk. Although this is considered standard practice, it is an extreme way of eating and jumping from one extreme to another poses risks and it is one of the main reasons that fasting gets a bad wrap.
When people don’t take the time to clean up their diet first and dive right in looking for a quick fix (guilty), they suffer.
They then go on to point the finger of blame at the fruit and juice and write the whole protocol off as being unhealthy.
So, if your diet is looking relatively SAD… clean it up a little first. Ditch the animal products and junk for a while and start to bring in more plant based whole foods. Slowly increase your fruit intake and hydrate the body. The longer you spend transitioning, the better you will fare.
Get The Essentials
If you are committed to a prolonged fast there are some additional protocols and practices you can bring in to ensure your body is in a state of elimination.
Fruits have an astringent quality to them and that works to stir up and pull at toxicity so it can be released. However, when you are on a liquid fast you should expect your bowels to slow down. Even if you are planning on whole fruit fast, you can still become constipated as although fruits are energising, they are not stimulating.
You must comprehend the importance of elimination.
It is vitally important that you are releasing the toxins that are stirred up in the body when fasting.
This is the whole purpose of cellular detoxification and to not do so, can do more harm than healing.
If you are not going to the bathroom every day, you are allowing toxicity to circulate around the system, so be prepared to;
Take cleansing herbs like Triphala
Book in for a colonic
During Your Fast
Once the diet is cleaned up and you are prepared to keep the body in a state of elimination, you are ready to dive in.
Keep in mind, that the first couple of days are the hardest! It is easy to throw in the towel at this point because what is one or two days… you’re not so invested. Trust that once you get past those initial days, it can become relatively easy to keep the ball rolling.
Next pointer. Always be prepared!
If you are juice fasting, bring your juice with you. You are on fruits, take snacks. Maybe you are on a water fast. Well my advice then is to just stay home and consider yourself a recluse…
In all seriousness, you do not want to isolate yourself if you are a social being, regardless of what type of fast you are on. For my fellow introverts, this is not such an issue – you don’t have to tell me twice to lay low.
It can help however and be in your best interest to avoid situations that you know will trigger cravings, IF you think you are likely to cave. Just don’t put yourself under lock and key and give yourself cabin fever. You will only come to resent the experience.
You do however want to use this time as an opportunity to rest. I advise that you to listen to the body here and try not to over exert yourself. If you do, you will pay the price.
For most of us, we go into a prolonged fast to work on the physical body. Perhaps to try and solve a chronic condition or to lose some weight.
What only a few people are talking about and what MORE people need to acknowledge, is that when you detox the physical you will inevitably be confronted with some emotional and mental baggage.
What’s more – Fasting can be a deeply spiritual experience.
Even if that word is a giant turn off for you and spirituality is not your jam, think about it in terms of psychology. When the body fasts, so does the mind.
The mind can in fact (and probably will), struggle much more than the physical body. It has to battle a lifetime of addiction, pleasure seeking and discomfort avoidance.
Another word of caution;
This is a big one my friend.
If you have experience with an eating disorder, it is very likely going to be triggered by a prolonged fast.
This has been my experience and I am still dealing with the consequences.
I personally do not consider this to be a necessarily negative. I see it as an opportunity to heal unresolved trauma and shed layers of ego that are not serving me.
We can only overcome that which haunts us, by having it rise to the surface so we can face it and then let it go. Suppressing, ignoring and avoiding, only deepens our wounds in the long run.
To deal with emotional detox, you must ensure that you have the tools and the emotional maturity to navigate what comes up. Do not shy away from what surfaces and be willing to sit with that which arises in meditation.
If you are not a meditator, there are many other creative means of catharsis.
However, If you would like to learn to meditate and reap profound rewards, please reach out to me for more guidance and support.
Otherwise, be prepared to debrief with someone you trust.
The emotional work can look like many things and will be different for each of us, but if you feel like you are not ready to face potential demons, then I do NOT recommend prolonged fasting.
Once the ball is well and truly rolling, it becomes a little easier to keep at it. You are a little more invested and you can connect to that bigger picture.
However! Although you might be more committed in the mind, there is always the potential for the curve ball that is detox symptoms. You might not get any, but be prepared. They range from mild to wild; cold and flu symptoms, fevers, headaches and fatigue.
We will all experience detoxification differently so the key here is to listen to YOUR body.
It is fine to push past a little discomfort and trust in the process but if it becomes too intense at any time then be prepared to be at peace with breaking your fast.
You don’t fail, it doesn’t mean it didn’t work, it simply means that you have the emotional intelligence to listen to your body. Many people do not and they suffer.
Breaking Your Fast
You’ve done your 30 days. Maybe you smashed 60. Well played good sir, a pat on the back is more than deserved. I know you are excited to break your fast, to live out those food fantasies that have been plaguing you over the course of the last however many days…
STOP. Right there my friend.
Your fast is not as over as you think.
Breaking your fast is AS important as the fast itself. If not MORE.
If you practice yoga, you can relate this to your Shavasana. That pose at the very end where you lie really still – even though you might be REALLY ready to move onto what’s next.
You do this, you take this time, because THIS is where you reap the rewards!
This post fast period is also where you can really harm the body, if you end up indulging too soon on the ‘bad’ stuff.
Your digestive system is highly sensitive right now, so you need to go slow. The first couple of days have some watermelon, or another high water content juicy fruit. When it feels right, bring in some other fruits.
Give it a few days minimum before you break into some salads and lightly cooked steamed veggies and work your way slowly back into heavier foods (if that is where you are going).
Bombarding your body with all those ‘naughty’ foods you may have dreamed of, is one of the worst things you can do. It wreaks havoc on the digestive system and will have you right back at square one. Worse than square one.
Trust me, I have done this more than once and it is not as easy to avoid as you would like.
Just try to remember your goals. Why you fasted for so long and use this place of reduced cravings to propel you forward into a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle change.
Take Home Message
That’s it from me. I feel as though you are now a little more informed on how to prepare for a prolonged fast. What to expect during your fast and how to break it in order to continue with your healing or weight loss journey.
Believe me when I tell you it is not just a physical experience and that you will have to navigate many emotions. Be prepared to do the work and comprehend that prolonged fasting is no quick fix.